Common Scenarios for IntelliMirror User Data and Settings Features

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

This section presents sample scenarios that illustrate some of the practical uses of the user data and settings management features in IntelliMirror.

The scenarios present a snapshot of a users computer in various uses and stages throughout a typical lifecycle. Each of the scenarios fits into an entire picture or can be seen as a separate event and shows how IntelliMirror benefits the entire organization by reducing the time and effort associated with maintaining the computing environment.

The following scenarios are explained:

  • The New Hire

  • The Laptop User

  • Computer Replacement

  • A Shared Computer Environment

The New Hire

One of the most critical and time consuming IT tasks is setting up the new hire with a computer. In an organization that is using IntelliMirror, the new hire logs on to a new computer and finds documents and shortcuts already on the desktop. There are shortcuts to common files, URLs, and folders that are useful to all employees (for example, the employee handbook, a shortcut to the departmental shared documents store, and a shortcut to the users departmental guidelines and procedures). Desktop options, application configurations, Internet settings, and so on, are all configured to the corporate standard, ensuring that if the user needs to call the help desk, the support staff knows the configuration the user started with.

In this example, the user gets a pre-configured user profile that was set up for all new users, and was configured before the new hire logged on to the network. The administrator configured a computer to look and behave according to the corporate standard, and then using the User Profile1 utility built into the System Control Panel application, copied the user profile to a Default User folder on the domain controllers Netlogon share. When the new hire logged onto the network for the first time, Windows copied this default profile to the local computer and used this profile as the basis for the new hires profile. In addition to configuring the default profile the user received, the administrator also used Group Policy to redirect the users My Documents folder to a network location, so that the users documents are safely stored on a network server and can be backed up regularly.

The Laptop User

A laptop user working at the office creates several documents and saves them to his or her My Documents folder. After saving documents, the user logs off, unplugs the laptop computer from the network and takes it home. While at home and off the network, the user continues to edit the documents saved earlier in My Documents.

The user returns to the office and logs on to the network. Since the user has done some offline work, a dialog box appears advising the user that data in My Documents has changed and is being synchronized with the network copy.

In this scenario, the users My documents folder has been redirected to a network server, the documents are transparently saved to the network location and also saved in the local computers cache (because the network folder is setup to be available offline), so that they are available when the computer is disconnected from the network.

The whole process can be transparent to the user; the experience is no different than saving documents to the local hard disk.

As soon as the user reconnects to the network, IntelliMirror attempts to reconnect to the network location of the redirected folders. When IntelliMirror reconnects, it determines if there are differences in the data between the local copy of the folder and the network copy. In this scenario, the user has made modifications to a document on the local computer. IntelliMirror identifies this change and prompts the user to update the version stored on the network.

Computer Replacement

The computer that the user is working on suddenly stops working because of a complete hardware failure. The user calls the support line, and about 20 minutes later a new computer, loaded only with the Windows XP Professional operating system arrives for the user. Without waiting for technical assistance, the user plugs in the new computer, connects it to the network, and boots it. The computer allows the user to log on to the corporate network, and the user finds that the desktop has the same appearance as the original computer that it replaced. It has the same color scheme, the users preferred background picture is on the screensaver, and all the application icons, shortcuts, and favorites are present. More importantly, all the users data files have been restored.

In a disaster recovery scenario, IntelliMirror assists in getting the users computer replaced and running quickly and with the minimum of support. In this example, because the user was configured to use roaming user profiles, a copy of the users working environment was safely stored on a network server. When the new computer arrived, the user was able to log on and the server copy of the users profile was downloaded to the new computer. An administrator could also have used Folder Redirection to redirect the users key folders such as My Documents and Application Data, to ensure that the users documents were safely stored on the server.

A Shared Computer Environment

In this scenario, a user works in a department where the computer he or she uses may change from day to day a call center or IT support environment, for example. The user is working on an important document late one night when the shift ends. The user saves the document and logs off the computer. When the user returns to work the next day, he or she logs onto the first available computer a different computer from the one used the previous night. The user logs onto the network, and sees that the desktop has the same look and feel as the original computer. The user opens the My Documents folder on the desktop and finds the document exactly where he or she saved it and continues the work started the previous night.

In this example, the user was configured to use roaming user profiles, so that a copy of the users working environment was stored on a network server. When the user logged onto the computer, the users existing preferences, shortcuts and documents were copied to the local computer, so that the user could continue working as if using the original computer. A variation on this scenario is using roaming profiles in conjunction with Folder Redirection. Users can have the same work environment and access to the same documents on any computer. Changes made on one computer are synchronized with the other computer the next time the user logs on.

1 To access the User Profile utility, click Start, point to Settings, select Control Panel, select System, and then select the User Profiles tab in the System Properties dialog box.